For years, I was highly skeptical about using multiple-choice questions to assess law students' learning.' Clients, after all, do not ask lawyers to solve multiple-choice problems. I have realized, however, that multiple-choice quizzes can be a highly effective technique to include in any doctrinal class. Well-designed multiple-choice quizzes can help students in any size class learn foundational doctrine, provide feedback to teachers and students, develop students' interpersonal skills, and prepare students for the bar exam. Having used multiple-choice quizzes in first year and upper-level courses for several years, I now value multiple-choice quizzes as an effective first step in preparing students to engage in solving complex legal problems. When used with other assessments' as part of a comprehensive, coherent, and intentional overall course design, multiple-choice quizzes are effective in preparing law students for the deep learning necessary to practice law effectively.
This Article focuses on a particular approach to using multiple choice quizzes. In this approach, a one-semester course is broken into five to seven modules, and students individually complete a scheduled, closed-book, multiple-choice quiz toward the beginning of each new course module, before the material is formally "covered" in class but after students have completed reading on the topic. Each quiz primarily tests students on foundational doctrine for the new module and incorporates previous course material. After taking the multiple choice quiz individually, students immediately retake the same quiz in small groups, earning grades for both their individual and group quiz scores. Following the group quiz, students can appeal the answers their group got wrong. At the end of the multiple-choice quiz process, the teacher provides a mini-lecture, focusing on those multiple-choice questions and topics that were most challenging. This Article first shows why using this method of multiple-choice quizzes is effective and appropriate in law school doctrinal classes. The remainder of the Article suggests how to design and use these quizzes to maximize their effectiveness.
Elon Law Review
Sophie M. Sparrow, "Using Individual and Group Multiple-Choice Quizzes to Deepen Students' Learning," 3 ELON L. REV. 1 (2011-2012).